The Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi yesterday dismissed the ‘no case to answer’ prayed by Mrs Felicia Ochiga- Ogbuja, wife of the Polytechnic lecturer who allegedly raped a 13-year-old Ochanya Ogbanje, who later died of complications arising from the rape.
Mrs Ogbuja, 43, was arraigned by the Federal Government through its agency, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) on a two-count charge.
In the suit marked: FHC/MKD/CR/12/209, Mrs Ogbuja who is a staff at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo and who had filled no-case submission and she is standing trial on two counts;
“That you, Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja (Female) 43 years of Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, Benue State, sometime between 2014 and 2018, in Ugbokolo, Benue State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did omit to take action against the sexual exploitation of one Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje (Female) 13 years by your husband, Andrew Ogbuja and your son, Victor Ogbuja, thereby committing an offence contrary to section 13 (4) (b) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.
“That you, Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja (Female) 43 years of Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, Benue State, sometime between 2014 and 2018, in Ugbokolo, Benue State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did keep, detain or harbour one Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje (Female) 13 years, knowing that she is likely to be sexually exploited by your husband, Andrew Ogbuja and your son, Victor Ogbuja, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 15 (b) of the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.”
Mrs Ogbuja, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Ruling on no-case submission, trial judge, Justice M.O. Olajuwon held that the prosecution had led substantial evidence to warrant the defendant to enter her defence.
According to the court, “The prosecution in this matter has put substantial evidence before the court to warrant the defendant to enter her defence.
“Consequently, the defendant’s no-case-submission is hereby dismissed.
Justice Olajuwon, however, adjourned the case till July 27, 2020, for Mrs Ogbuja to open her defence.
It would be recalled that the prosecution counsel, Mr Ja’afaru Ayitogo called six witnesses, amongst which was Dr Babarinde Ojo, a consultant pathologist in the Department of Histopathology, Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi.
Mr Andrew Ogbuja, a senior lecturer at Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo and wife are standing trial on the alleged rape of 13-year-old Ochanya who was living with them.
Little Ochanya died on October 17, 2018, due to complications arising from the alleged sexual molestation she suffered in the hands of Mr Ogbuja and son, Victor Ogbuja who was a final year student of Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, he is still at large.
Both Mr and Mrs Ogbuja have been remanded at the Makurdi prison, their son, Victor is reportedly still at large although he has not been officially declared wanted by the police or any security agency or the court.
When the report of Ochanya’s death spread in October 2018 following complications arising from the alleged serial sexual assault, it provoked national outrage and demonstrations across the country with calls from human rights activists for the arrest and prosecution of Mr Ogbuja and his son, Victor.
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